Heart Defects in Children

Heart diseases like in elder people are common in children. In about a 1,000 children born, 8 of them are diagnosed with a heart defect. The branch of cardiology that deals with heart diseases in children is the Paediatric Cardiology. There are specific symptoms for the suspicion of cardiovascular abnormalities but the most specific symptom that is tested for is the cardiac murmur. Cardiac murmur is nothing but an extra heart sound that is produced as a result of turbulent flow of blood which produces a sound that is audible. Many children with cardiac abnormalities are asymptomatic because the malformation does no t result in major haemodynamic alterations.

There are mainly two types of heart diseases which are observed in children:
Congenital Heart Disease(CHD): Congenital Heart Disease affects about 1% of the new born and accounts for about 10% of all the cardiac abnormalities.
The common types of Congenital Heart Defects are:

  • Atrial Septal Defect
  • Ventricular Septal Defect
  • Pulmonary Stenosis
  • Tetralogy of Fallot
  • Endocardial Cushion Defect

The various factors that can increase the risk of this disease include:

  • Maternal diabetes mellitus
  • Familial presence of genetic syndrome
  • History of previous infant with CHD

Diagnosis of the most severe CHD is usually after a few months of child birth. It is also found that some babies turn blue or have a low blood pressure. Difficulty in breathing, feeding problems or poor weight gain are also seen in babies that suffer from CHD and can be found only through routine check up.

There are various treatments available once the defect is diagnosed. Many children with a heart defect may not require a surgery. Many medical treatment, diet control, medication and exercise are alternatives to surgery.
Children with Congestive Heart Faliure, become tired easily, have rapid or labored breathing, build up fluids or have a combination of these symptoms. Diuretics and digoxin are the medications usually prescribed. Here the heart doesnt pump blood sufficient enough for the body to carry out its normal activity.

Most children diagnosed with a heart defect may be active and are encouraged to participate in physical exercise that helps to keep their heart fit but strenuous exercise may not be advisable. They are able to attend regular schools and do not suffer from any physical or mental limitation that can prevent them from attending normal school. There can be certain limitations for children suffering from severe cases and for them, special arrangements are made. These are include, avoiding the child from climbing the stairs, or providing the child with special transportation.
Acquired Heart Disease: This disease develops during childhood. It is found common in adults than in children. But the two most common conditions found are:

  • Rheumatic Heart Disease
  • Kawasaki Disease

Other acquired heart diseases may occur in children treated for CHD.These children have an increased risk of Infective Endocarditis and cardiomiopathy, damage to the valves and the heart structure caused by an infection or inflammation. In young children and teens, arrhythmias(heart beats that are slow, fast or irregular) may develop.
Significant heart defects can be diagnosed anytime during childhood. The following tests may be required by the cardiologist to diagnose the defect:

  • X-Ray
  • Electrocardiogram(ECG)
  • Doppler Echocardiography
  • Blood Tests

There are various treatments available once the defect is diagnosed. Many children with a heart defect may not require a surgery. Many medical treatment, diet control, medication and exercise are alternatives to surgery.
Children with Congestive Heart Faliure, become tired easily, have rapid or labored breathing, build up fluids or have a combination of these symptoms. Diuretics and digoxin are the medications usually prescribed. Here the heart doesnt pump blood sufficient enough for the body to carry out its normal activity.
Most children diagnosed with a heart defect may be active and are encouraged to participate in physical exercise that helps to keep their heart fit but strenuous exercise may not be advisable. They are able to attend regular schools and do not suffer from any physical or mental limitation that can prevent them from attending normal school. There can be certain limitations for children suffering from severe cases and for them, special arrangements are made. These are include, avoiding the child from climbing the stairs, or providing the child with special transportation.